You might start getting bored of your everyday morning coffee. To spice things up, consider trying different coffee drinks. In this coffee brewing guide, we will guide you through the famous Cuban coffee. It’s well known for its rich, sweet flavor, and it’s easy to make at home.
What is Cuban coffee (Cafe Cubano)?
CUBAN COFFEE (also known as Café Cubano or Cafecito) is a strong espresso-like coffee that is usually brewed with a Moka pot, with a thick layer of sweet sugar foam on top. Traditional Cuban coffee is usually served in a small cup.
Cuban Coffee is popular across much of Latin America, including Central and South America and Cuba.
How Does Cuban Coffee Taste?
When it is served in a small cup, Cuban coffee looks exactly like a shot of espresso but tastes sweet.
First, there’s the satisfying flavor of robust and condensed coffee that is reminiscent of espresso. There’s also a sweet but subtle taste of sugar. The combination of bitterness and sweetness together is what makes this drink so delicious.
Finally, the distinctive sugar foam on top tastes fluffy and just as sweet as the espresso itself, complementing each other in every sip.
Luckily, you don’t need to travel to Cuba to enjoy a cup of authentic Cuban coffee.
Things you’ll Need To Make Traditional Cuban Coffee
A stovetop espresso maker (AKA Moka Pot)
Cuban coffee is prepared in a Moka pot instead of an espresso machine. It’s because a Moka pot makes small batches of coffee, and the strong flavor is perfect for Cuban-style coffee. That’s why we think it’s suitable for home baristas since stovetop espresso makers are affordable, and my guess is that you’ve got one sitting somewhere in your kitchen.
If you don’t own a Moka pot yet, it’s worth trying one. We carefully compared and picked the best Moka pot options and demonstrated how to choose the best one in this buying guide.
A quick note, you’ll need a Moka pot with a suitable capacity. You can’t make a single-serve using a 6-cup Moka pot since you’ll need to fill the filter basket with coffee to make a perfect shot. The 3-cup Moka pot is our suggestion if you will not serve more than three people frequently.
A Bowl or cup for mixing the sugar and coffee
You will need a bowl or any other container to mix the sugar with a small amount of coffee and froth them into sugar foam. Then mix the form with the rest coffee before pouring the coffee into a small serving cup. We suggest that you pick up a container with a spout, and a stainless steel one is better than a glass pot since you’ll need to whip the sugar foam vigorously.
What kinds of Coffee beans should you use for Cuban coffee?
Any medium-to-dark roast coffee beans will suffice for Cuban style coffee. The coffee grounds should be finer than coffee that has been brewed with regular drip, but coarser than espresso grinds. Cuban ground coffee is also available online or in many grocery stores.
Many Cuban coffee brands taste good for this Cuban coffee recipe, such as Cafe Bustelo, Cafe Pilon, and Cafe La Llave.
If you buy the whole beans, you will need a coffee grinder to grind them to fine grounds. Most of the hand grinder to electric burr grinder can get the job done.
How much sugar should you use to make the Espuma (foam)?
The ‘Espuma’ (or espumita) is the thick and frothy sugar form that looks like the crema on an espresso. To achieve that beautiful sugar foam, you’ll need to whip the sugar with one or two teaspoons of Moka pot coffee. Generally speaking, more sugar will result in more foam. The amount of sugar is up to you depending on your taste preference.
1-2 teaspoons per serving are the right amount for a sweet balance that still allows the coffee flavor to come through. You can also add more sugar if you want it to be sweeter.
Granulated sugar or brown sugar?
Both granulated sugar and brown sugar will work perfectly for Cuban coffee. Brown sugar will taste a bit sweeter and give you a thicker form. In our brewing recipe, we use granulated sugar, and the coffee also tastes fantastic.
How to Make Cuban Coffee – Recipe and Instructions
You can start brewing this amazingly rich coffee in a few simple steps with your Moka pot, coffee, and sugar. Let’s get started.
What You’ll Need
- 15g of grounds (which amounts to approximately one rounded scoop of the scoop supplied with the AeroPress).
- Medium-fine grounds – aim for a grind size somewhere between the grounds you’d use for drip and espresso.
- Hot water at a temperature of 175 F (80 C).
- Upright brew method.
- Brew time of one minute (followed by stirring for 10 seconds).
Step by Step Instructions for Making Cuban Coffee
Step 1: Make the Espresso With A Moka Pot
We are using the 3-cup Moka pot to make 3 shots of ‘stovetop’ espresso. First, fill the water container with boiling water just below the safety valve. Then fill the filter basket with water, shape to level the coffee grounds without tamping. Assemble the Moka pot and move it to the stove on medium heat. The coffee rises to the top and becomes ready in about a minute. Move the Moka pot away from the stove once you heard the gurgling sound. To check the detailed instructions, check out our Moka pot brewing guide.
Step 2: Make Espuma Mixture
Add 3 teaspoons of sugar into the bowl, and then add 1 teaspoon of the strong ‘espresso’ coffee you just brewed. Whisk the sugar granules and coffee together for a few minutes to make it fluffy and light in color. If you prefer sweeter coffee, add more sugar with one or two more teaspoons of brewed coffee if needed.
Step 3: Mix the Espuma with the rest of coffee
Add all the coffee into the Espuma and mix them thoroughly. Melt sugar fully without any lumps by stirring continuously and foaming up in the mixing bowl.
Step 4: Serve the coffee to demitasse cups
Now your Cafe Cubano is ready, pour coffee from the pot into serving cups. Enjoy!
Cuban Coffee Variations:
When it comes to Cuban coffee, apart from the CAFÉ CUBANO we just mentioned above, you may often hear other coffee drinks, such as Cafe Con Leche, Cortadito, Colada. People can prepare those drinks differently depending on personal preference. It’s pretty casual and doesn’t follow a strict ratio or recipe.
Cafe Con Leche
Cafe con leche (coffee with milk) is another favorite among Cubans. You just need to add coffee and milk and blend them together, which can be served hot or cold, with or without sugar. Café con leche is popular in Florida and Puerto Rico as well. It is often served at breakfast with a stack of sweet, buttery toast that you can dip in your coffee.
Cortadito is another popular coffee variation in Cuba. Instead of using Espumita, Cortadito is prepared with steamed milk. It is the coffee with milk version of Cuban coffee. If you’d like sweet coffee you can always add some sugar.
Colada is simply a larger serving of the CAFÉ CUBANO drink that comes with a few small cups for sharing. It’s a good option for enjoying coffee with friends or takeaway.
Cuban coffee is quite an enjoyable coffee drink. The ritual can be quite entertaining, and the coffee looks really appealing. The combination of coffee and sugar is not something special, but with the frothy sugar crema on top and a thicker and richer texture, you’ll love the taste and mouthfeel of Cuban coffee.
With a Moka pot and this recipe, you will quickly learn to love Cuban coffee as much as the locals do!
Cuban Coffee Recipe
- A Moka pot (Stovetop espresso maker)
- A pot or bowl
- A spoon
- Demitasse cups
- Finely ground coffee Fills the filter basket
- 3 teaspoons granulated sugar Add more if you like sweeter coffee
Brew espresso with a Moka pot
- Fill the lower water chamber with boiling water, make sure the water level is below the safety valve.
- Fill the finely ground coffee in the filter basket, level the coffee bed without tamping
- Put the water chamber, filter basket, and the top chamber together, move it to the heat
- Wait for 1 minute until the coffee starts to come out from the spout and flow into the top chamber
- Stop heating once you heard the gurgling sounds to avoid over-extraction
- Espresso is ready for the next step
Make the Sugar Form
- Add the sugar to a container, add a small amount of hot coffee into sugar.
- Beat the sugar and espresso until most of the sugar granules begin to dissolve and the color of the mixture turns light
Mix the Coffee and Sugar Form
- Pour the rest of coffee from the Moka pot and stir the mixture until they are fully mixed
- Serve the coffee into the demitasse cups and enjoy